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Honor Song for Lloyd Yellowrobe at Ashland, Montana, Northern Cheyenne Powwow

September 3, 2016
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Yellow robe Family Feast

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The day of the Ashland Labor Day Powwow arrived at last, so P. and I bought a case of bottled water, collected a couple bags of plums off our tree, and I got a bunch of cash from the credit union.  Yes, and I gassed up the car.  P. baked three dozen biscuits.  We started off by picking up our camping chairs from NOVA from Dodie Rife, then we bought two blocks of ice to keep the water cold.  We set out.

Things looked pretty dry all the way to Hardin.  Yes, there’s a hot springs along the road on the last stretch that smells like rotten eggs.  Still there.  Still smells.  Things looked pretty much as expected except — you know those big American flags they fly at places like Perkins restaurants?  — Well, we saw the Crow tribal flag that same size flying at Crow Agency.  Crow’s flag is a light blue with its predominantly orange seal in the center.

The drive from Crow to Busby looks about the same.  One of the houses is not only vacant, you can see right through the windows to the other side of the building.  Eddie Alden’s mother’s house is the same, looking more weathered.  Always fun to try to remember the names of who lived in which house.  Actually, now it’s more of remembering if I ever knew who lived in which house.

Busby’s big wooden teepee is standing, looking worse than ever, shingles falling off.  Past the monument to the Cheyenne Patriarchs I noticed a man sitting bareback on a horse, looking intently at his smart phone.

I hardly saw any junked cars between Busby and Lame Deer.  We stopped at the Chief Dull Knife College bookstore and P. bought a beaded keychain.  People were friendly and helpful.

We pretty much drove right to the Ashland powwow grounds and the first group to our left were standing in a ribboned off area about 100 feet on a side.  I wasn’t sure if I knew anyone in the group, but P. and I pulled in close to the area.  As I stepped out of the car I saw Lloyd Yellowrobe.

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Lloyd Yellowrobe

Great to see Lloyd!  He was glad to see me too.  He said he just heard his name called at the arbor by the man calling the powwow.

“Let’s go, then,” I said.  Lloyd looked stove in the last time I saw him, but he really looked smallish, not too tallish yesterday.  His grin was bigger than the rest of his face.  We glanced backward.  Lloyd seemed glad that his family was coming along after him.

Thus we walked the short distance to the arbor.  On the way, a pretty girl handed me a picture frame, 8×10, with a typewritten paper inside.  As we walked ahead Lloyd’s wife, Helen Yellowrobe, came up and I handed the document to her.  She seemed glad to get it and Lloyd, P. and I sat in the arbor.  The announcer said there was to be a Give Away in honor of Lloyd Yellowrobe.  About five or six people took new quilts, wrapped in clear plastic, and set them on the ground in front of the announcer’s stand.

Someone told us to move closer to the announcer’s stand.  At first I didn’t go, but another young lady said I should go stand with the group.

Once we were assembled near the quilts the announcer said the drummers were going to sing an honor song for Lloyd and for all military veterans.  Helen handed the document to the announcer who said he would have me read it through the microphone after the honor song.

The honor song, in the Cheyenne language, sounded familiar, but I have never learned the words.  I know other “Anglos” who have been to so many powwows that they can sing all of the words.  I’m thinking of Nikki Lippert-Spottedeagle.

The document was the General Order of commendation for the Bronze Star with V for Valor for Lloyd Yellowrobe.  It described how Lloyd’s unit’s defensive position was taking hostile fire.  Lloyd fired mortar rounds until a distant object that they used to aim the mortar fell over.  Lloyd risked personal injury or death to run out into the dangerous territory about 50 meters, set the object upright, then run back.  The order said Lloyd’s actions insured success for the U.S. Army and was in the highest traditions of the the Army.

I handed the orders back to the announcer after I finished reading.  He then asked me to tell who I was and how I was acquainted with Lloyd.  I did and I did.  Oh, I went on and on, but with a friend like Lloyd, it was easy to keep telling and telling.

Afterward I sat down next to P. under the arbor’s roof.  A young lady, I think it was Susan Littlewolf, wondered if I was supposed to keep standing with the family?  I took the hint and hurried over.

You know, at first I thought Susan was Amy Jaure, from Busby.  I said to her, “Amy?”

“She’s my sister,” Susan answered.  We both have the same mother.  We both have these cheeks.”  They both have beautiful cheeks.

Then when I was standing with the family I shook hands with a fellow I thought was Ronald Glenmore.  It wasn’t.  It was his younger brother Floyd.  This is the kind of mistake a person makes when returning after ten years.

I didn’t know what to do, so I stood at the back of the group.  Another pretty young lady took my hand and asked me to stand in front with the other men, so I did.  I’ve not seen so many pretty young ladies, all gentle and all of them kind.

The announcer said they were going to play a gourd dance song, a socializing song, everyone should dance.  Well, I was standing at the end of the group and drummers started playing, so I watched the feet of a small lad next to me, and his feet were going step-step, step-step, so I tried to do the same.  Helped me if I didn’t think about it too hard.

All the others had gourds, but not me.  Then a handsome young man stepped out of the line, walked to me and handed me a gourd to my left hand, and an eagle feather fan to my right.  Then the drummers played the gourd dance song again, so I shook the gourd so that it rattled in time with the music.  The group played the gourd dance song about four or five times and in between we rattled our gourds.  I thought I was getting pretty good at it.  Afterward, I handed the gourd and fan back to the man who gave it to me.

The announcer called me by name and asked me to pick out a quilt from those given away.  I stopped in front of an orange and brown quilt and seized it, holding it up for all to see.  P. likes fall colors.

After that one person after another was called up to choose a quilt, including Susan Littlewolf, who seemed more used to this sort of thing.

The announcer said “That concludes the honoring of Lloyd Yellowrobe,” so we all walked back to the ribboned off area.

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Lloyd and Helen Yellowrobe

Lloyd was quite weary, so he and Helen sat in their car while everyone else helped themselves to stew, dried elk back strap meat, fry bread, biscuits, several kinds of cake, pop, water, apple sauce, and plums.  After eating I sat in the back seat of the car with Lloyd and Helen and we jabbered about the old days and about the whereabouts of each person.

To my sorrow I learned that “Rabbit” Hiwalker is on dialysis and has had a leg amputated.  I promised myself I would try to look him up at the dialysis centers in Billings.

I did not stay for the Clown Dancing.  Helen said they would be kids, dressed up like Donald Trump.  I am not making this up.  I needed to get back to my dog, Gunther.

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